Another idea swimming around out there is that children act spoiled or act up because they are given the focus, while the two parents should come first as a couple, and the baby second.
I agree that the parents need to give their relationship status. It needs to be nurtured and watched out for. If me and Payman aren’t getting along, it affects all of us, and maybe the kids the most.
I don’t see it as a competition though. I invest myself differently into the kids then I do my relationship to Payman. And most importantly, he understands that the way I invest myself to them, whether it’s time spent getting them to sleep, nursing, babywearing or et cetera, pays off for our family in the long run.
Payman and I hope to be married for the next 50 years, right? We understand that for three or four of those years I will be focusing on the children and not us. If it is so that they will be secure and confidant and trust that we are there for them, and thus hopefully trust that we are there for them as they navigate the difficulties of adolescense and growing up, it is a sacrifice we gladly make.
I should add that this attitude didn’t develop over night. When Azita was born, I was extremely overwhelmed by everything. The sheer volume of her need for me. The not watching a favorite TV show with Payman. The nursing. The sleeping. The balancing working outside the home with the housework with time for myself. It wasn’t easy for me. But I figured out how to budget my time and get what I needed for myself while still being able to parent in a way I feel my kids deserve. It just took adaptability.
And all that being said, our attachment-parenting style has not really interfered with our ability to find time to be together. Sure, there are tough weeks when I say “Geez, honey, it feels like I didn’t see you this week” and I pass out from exhaustion putting the kids to sleep each night. But I can’t let my kids be afraid. Even at four years of age, Azita doesn’t like to fall asleep on her own.
Payman remembers being horribly afraid of the dark and sneaking into his brother’s room because he wasn’t allowed to disturb his parents. We don’t want that for them. I was always welcome in my parent’s bed. Guess which one of us has trouble sleeping at night, and is always jumping awake at little noises?
Yes, him. And yes, that is one anecdote and doesn’t mean all cases will be like that. But for us, it’s enough. That and following our hearts.
And I always remember when I was figuring this stuff out with Azita, my dad telling me that one of my sisters slept fine on her own and I preferred to be in their room.
If you poke around message boards and blogs, you will find many parents, even those who did sleep training methods and had the first kid sleep on their own, in their own room, say that it just didn’t work for the second child. Children are individuals, and what we do doesn’t change their ingrained personality traits, I don’t believe. It shapes their personality, for better or for worse. Maybe one kid forced to sleep on their own copes fine, while another becomes cripplingly afraid. Again, I guess I just believe in listening to that particular child and their needs.
Many people see kids as selfish and attention seeking and that that is a motive for their behavior. I agree, actually. But I don’t agree on what that implies.
Our job as parents is to help them go from babies, intimately connected with their mother, to self-sufficient, but hopefully not horrible self-centered, people. It takes a long time. It takes at least 15 to 20 years, right? It seems like some of these parenting philosophies want kids to be grown up and self-sufficient in a matter of weeks.
I think forcing too much independance on your kid has the opposite affect. I think that it makes them more needy and less secure in the end. Azita and Ada will learn to cope with being apart from me when they are ready. They will make that choice, it won’t be forced on them. I think forcing it on them, especially Azita, would backfire on me. The more I have ever tried to make Azita more independant of me than she was ready for, the clingier she got.
When I let her sleep with me, snuggle with me, have my undivided attention before needing to do something on my own, her little cup is full and she is much more likely go off on her own.
Azita is the kind of kid that sending her to her room is the worst thing you can do to her. She hates being alone. But Ada will happily play by herself. So how can one type of discipline work equally well for both of them? It can’t. I don’t believe so.
Conflict between parents and children comes when the kids want to do something different than the parents, either because they don’t understand why its dangerous or because they don’t understand the adult world and its time constraints. I believe a kid acting out needs to be listened to and needs to be heard. The more I listen to Azita, and try to find out what she really wants, the less she throws tantrums or argues with Ada. Some times her wish can’t be fulfilled, but often, if I’m flexible or provide what she wants in an acceptable way, it can.
We just don’t view our family as a household with individuals that are fighting for attention. At times, it might feel like that because the needs of kids are demanding. But we see it as me and Payman working together to help the kids learn to be independant at their individual paces. We’ll go on a second honeymoon one day.